Wilder by Far

A look at life with the Wilder family. Updated most weekends and some vacation days. You can contact me at movingnorth@gmail.com..

My Photo
Location: United States

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

"Snakes. Why did it have to be snakes?" - Indy


If Indiana Jones grew up in Houston, he wouldn’t be creepy about snakes, but instead about fire ants. The picture above is of a fire ant magnified fifty gazillion times.

I remember going to see Raiders of the Lost Ark when I was a kid. I’ll guiltily admit why I went: here was a movie that had Han Solo® in it. I had seen each and every crappy movie that Harrison Ford was in between Star Wars™ and Raiders, hoping that they would not be filled with great gulps of suckage. Sadly, each movie (Heroes??, Hanover Street????) attempted to crush my youthful hope into jaded cynicism. It was like Hollywood© was attempting to do its best to make me hate movies.

It was before the Internet, so I hadn’t heard anything about Raiders of the Lost Ark before it showed up in our little two-movie-theater-town (two showings at each theater a night, except on Wednesdays). Note: two theaters in a small town wasn’t so bad. I learned when I was fourteen that the theater down the street (which showed only R-rated movies) trained their ticket-takers that “cash-in-hand=17.” Oh, the education!

I sat down in my usual fold-down theater seat (before you can drive, if you were a kid you had a usual seat, since VCRs, DVDs, and iPods® had yet to be invented by Al Gore, though Al had invented the first video game, the ALtari™ several years earlier) and prepared mentally to be horribly disappointed again.

No! There he was, Harrison Ford, in a movie that didn’t suck! I floated home with that light feeling in the chest, that feeling of having been uplifted by the ultimate in coolness.

Fast Forward, er, Skip Chapter . . . .

While The Boy was growing up, the Indiana Jones™ movies were released on DVD. I hesitated buying them. First, fifty bucks was fifty bucks, and that was an expensive proposition for movies I’d already paid to see. Second, it’s not like The Mrs. and I were going to sit around and watch them on a Friday night. Or a Saturday night. Heck, we could get into R-rated movies if we wanted to.

Now The Boy is 7. I’ve noticed him enjoying things that aren’t cartoons, and decided it was time. I bought the trilogy on DVD. He walked by my desk after the helpful folks over at Amazon had delivered it.

“Hey,” The Boy remarked, “Indiana Jones™, I’ve heard of him.”

“Seen an Indiana Jones™ movie yet? And,” I continued, “where, exactly, little Mr., did you learn to pronounce ™?”

“Nah, haven’t seen one. And, really, Dad, all the kids at school say ™, all the time!”

I let the whole ™ thing drop. Let The Mrs. handle it. “Want to watch an Indiana Jones™ movie?” said the spider to the fly.

“Well,” hesitating, “I guess.”

The Mrs. and I sat down on our couch, and I hit ‘play’ on the remote.

As Indy walked through the thick South American jungle, into the temple, and retrieving the gold idol, I could see The Boy watching with rapt attention. When Indy replaced the golden idol (which, by the way, is mooning us) with the sand, The Boy clapped his hands excitedly.

The Boy watched Indy run from rock marbles, jump chasms, fly in planes, hate snakes, retrieve the Lost Ark while Nazi’s turn into piles of goo (sorry if I spoiled the whole ending for you) and, finally, put it in a big government warehouse where they keep wooden boxes, probably filled with government forms for requisitioning wooden boxes, or, perhaps they keep our secret government hamster army.

The Boy started the movie in the chair. The Boy ended up on the floor in front of the television, in rapt attention, and, according to my mother, ruining his eyesight. I had to keep an eye on him to make sure he didn’t get sucked into the movie, and have to live in a government box. The Boy would then have to fend for himself against our crack US Hampster Force. I couldn't live with that sort of guilt.

I think I’ll show The Boy the next two Indy movies. Then? I’ll make him watch Heroes or Hanover Street.

Just because I’m mean.

But I won’t make him watch Witness, because even I’m not that mean.
Posted by Picasa

Sunday, April 27, 2008

"One of you is gonna fall and die and I'm not cleaning it up." - Mal, Firefly


Paris Hilton on a diet.

“Well, tell me thank you, then.”

That’s what The Boy said when asked what The Mrs. and I should do after his stellar performance in cleaning his room this weekend.

Let me explain:

There is a point in the life of a child when they cease becoming helpless and become, well, helpful. This weekend was when that switch flipped inside The Boy. Sunday afternoon, I told him, “Go clean up your room.”

The Boy: “I want you to help me.”

Me: “No, I have to clean the kitchen. You go do it. Pick up your toys. Take the trash out. You can do it.”

I expected him to stamp off and then dither about for a few hours while I scrubbed and cleaned. That would be okay. At least I could get something done.

Then I heard a noise. The vacuum.

A little later, The Boy came into the kitchen and said, “Want to take a look at my room?”


My actual anticipation was that The Boy had somehow caught the vacuum into the chords on the blinds on his windows and it was repeatedly gouging holes into the drywall in his ceiling.

My bad.

The Boy’s room actually (for the first time in a long time) looked like a place where an actual human could live. It looked, well, good. I didn’t see festering piles of clothing covered in a variety of bacteria and insects that would make the Centers for Disease Control clamp down a biohazard warning on our house. I didn’t see candy bars slowly melting into the carpet so that the infestation of ants was placated and didn’t try to eat The Boy.

Instead I saw something I hadn’t seen in his room since we’d moved in here: carpet.

Someone apparently snuck in and replaced my little-tiny The Boy and put in a little tiny Young Man.

I decided to test this thesis. I asked him to clean up the pit of despair that was the lair of Pugsley while I fed Pugsley some alphabet soup. The Boy marched off. Fifteen minutes later, he showed back up.


If you’ve never seen the hideous devastation a two-year-old can bring down on a room, well, let’s just say that if you had a crazed hammerhead shark (or Nick Nolte) living in your house, a two-year-old can create more havoc than either of them. Or both of them. Or, even if it was Nick, the hammerhead shark, and the illegitimate offspring of Nick Nolte and the hammerhead shark.

I walked into Pugsley’s room. It looked like, well, a room, rather than looking like Tijuana after a visit from Christian Slater and a horde of Visigoths. The Boy had done a good, quick, thorough job.

The Boy is growing up. He didn’t ask for candy, just asked us to tell him “Thank you.”

So, “Thank you.”

Now take the trash out.

Next: Indiana Jones® Meets The Boy
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

"Standard Scrabble® rules apply: no kicking, biting or slapping. No projectiles of any kind." - Dilbert's Mom, Dilbert


Some people take Pinewood Derby too seriously. I mean, the car is made of pine, but who has to insure that their car has insurance against termites? (This car is named “The Splinter” – how cool is that?)

The Mrs., Pugsley, The Boy and I all loaded into the (newly repaired from my collision with that idiot who was stopped completely legally at the yield sign) Wildermobile and headed out to the Scout Fair. Thankfully, my car was not made of wood, or else I would still be waiting for the varnish to dry. The Scout Fair consisted of lots of polite kids, polite adults, and long (polite) lines at the Army booth where they were handing out custom dogtags.

We enjoyed all of it, and I think the marshmallow-throwing catapult was a favorite. No eyes were lost in production of the day.

Afterwards, we went to a book-signing. By “went to” I mean “drove at least thirty miles down a street looking for a bookstore before we found it because The Mrs. left the directions and address at home on the printer.”

You’d think at a book-signing, the books would be free. Surprisingly, this is not the case – they seem to want you to pay, regardless of if the book has your name in it or not. Philistines.

The Mrs., with the ink still drying on her book contract, had a friend who was doing a book signing at a local bookstore. EVEN THEN, they still wanted us to pay.

Anyhow, we got to the signing. The bookstore specialized in mystery/murder/suspense books. Since I graduated from “Encyclopedia Brown®” books, I have avoided mystery books entirely – I’m still mad about that whole Encyclopedia Brown: Solving The Mystery of Paris Hilton’s Fame book, and it’s soured my taste for that stuff.

The Mrs. was there to meet a friend she’d never met in person (the magic of the Internet), so Pugsley and The Boy were my responsibility. So, me holding the reigns on two rambunctious boys while The Mrs. wanted to meet (in a polite way) her Internet friend. A recipe for disaster.

Internet, I did poorly. While The Boy perused the section of kid books (Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, and a collection of other kid books, Pugsley went on a terror to make Genghis Khan proud.

If you don’t have kids, let me explain: if you have a two-year-old who needs a nap, and he hasn’t had one, you have on your hands the equivalent of a crazed Satanic group of PETA volunteers with Sharpie™ markers at a harp seal hunt in an antique store. It’s like sixteen poodles who haven’t eaten in a week fighting over half a Chicken McNugget™. I’m running out of metaphors here, but let’s just say Pugsley was like piranhas on a Pop-Tart©.

So The Mrs. waited politely while her friend, the other author, made small talk with a fan. Me? I’m subtle. I would have jumped right in. To explain: when I (this happened) suddenly have to pretend to be the Cub Scout Den Leader because ours is unexpectedly gone and hand out awards, I can do that, even when surrounded by a group of complete strangers.

The Mrs.? Not so much. Plus there’s this whole “girl etiquette” thing about not interrupting a group of people you’ve never met and introducing yourself like you own the place. With guys it’s much simpler. “You like beer and football? Me, too. Let’s have beer and watch football.”

With women, there’s this whole set of rules that other people have to stop talking before you start. You can’t talk with your mouth full, or pass gas indiscriminately. Apparently there are places you shouldn’t scratch. It’s just so confusing.

In the end, The Mrs. met her friend, and I ended up paying for a book with The Mrs.’ name written in it. I think if we had changed our minds we could have gotten a heck of a discount. I also got a first edition Philip K. Dick (who wrote the movie Total Recall was based on) book (The Mrs. read the back cover and said, “Hmm, looks like he wrote only one book, but just kept putting different titles on it.”).

Yeah, but he didn’t have a wooden car. But he probably thought he did. Or thought that the government wanted him to think he did since he was a slave on Mars.
Posted by Picasa

Sunday, April 20, 2008

"Shatner is, was and ever shall be Kirk to me. I need my hero." - Robert, Free Enterprise


A gator, swimming in what appears to be lime-flavored Gatorade®. Note: I did NOT spit on this alligator.

To recap: I’ve been camping with The Boy. The Boy kept waking me up because I was (he says, but has no proof) snoring. I must say it was actually a cunning plan on my part to ward off the hordes of vicious raccoons that had surrounded our tent and demanded that we give them Cheetos® or they would do something unspecified (but horrible) with their evil little opposable thumbs. They also threatened to use mind-control technology on us to make us drop tasty things if we did not relent and give them the crunch-styrofoamish goodness that are Cheetos™. My snoring must have been answer enough.

We went hiking, if walking on an asphalt path for a half-mile around a lake is your idea of hiking. We walked back to our camp, and I cooked up some macaroni and cheese for The Boy and some hot dogs for myself. When getting the hot dogs off of the grill, I needed an extra hand, so I asked The Boy to come and take the dogs over to the table. He managed to drop two of the three dogs into the dirt. The evil raccoons with their mind control technology win this one.

We ate. I raided our supply of lunchmeat since apparently sleep-deprivation makes me hungry. The Boy then walked over to the playground right next to our camping area, and I slowly drifted in and out of slumber on my lawn chair, while reading a P.J. O’Rourke book. I think this was one of the reasons that The Mrs. didn’t send Pugsley with me, since he could have made it to Montana during one of my brief bouts of narcolepsy.

A slight digression: when I say “The Boy then walked over to the playground,” I actually mean that “The Boy then used an assortment of strange steps and odd gaits that make me think of Monty Python’s skit about the Ministry of Silly Walks to somehow get himself over to the playground.”

In a bid not to be named “Father of the Year” for taking The Boy camping and spending the trip sleeping on a lawn chair, I grabbed The Boy and headed to another part of the park, where a cryptic legend on the park map indicated, “Here be gators.”

We got there, and there was a gator, swimming contentedly under a fishing pier. As I looked down, I saw him directly under us, and, for whatever reason I had the strangest urge to spit on him. I looked around, saw dozens of other people, and decided that would be rather rude, gauche, and somewhat childish.

The Boy and I watched as the gator lazily floated around the dock. Occasionally, a person would spit on it. I saw adults (at least in size) older than me horking loogies at the ‘gator. This bothered me until I remembered that alligators are cold blooded, and these people were probably attempting to share their mammalian heat with the ‘gator by, umm, spitting on it.

Okay, that sounds bogus to me, too.

Anyhow, we ended up back at the camp site where a game of dodge-ball was developing. At first it was kids versus kids, and that was fairly amusing to watch. The Boy seemed to be a better target than thrower, but I figured by the time The Boy was an actual The Boy Scout, he would gleefully toss a rubber ball into the noggin of an unsuspecting first grader.

At some point, it was Dads (three of us) versus kids. This led to the (rather) surreal ending of one game where a hulking blonde parent was faced off against a nine-year-old girl. The parent was, well, me.

How do you end a game like that? I couldn’t throw the ball at 90 mph at her, because it looks like I want to win too bad. Also, I throw like a nine-year-old girl, so I can’t throw a ball at 90 mph. Conversely, I can’t throw the game. It’s just not right. Eventually, the scene became longer than the end of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly where the camera kept focusing on Clint Eastwood’s bulging vein. I think the little girl was Lee Van Cleef.

Eventually I threw a rock at her, hit her in the shoulder, and then threw a blazing dodge-ball into her forehead.

Okay, I’m joking. I caught the ball she threw at me.

I then avoided further moral uncertainty. I drove to the observatory to buy tickets.

Did I mention our campground had an observatory sponsored by the Houston Museum of Natural History? Well, sorry I skipped that. I got tickets (very hard to come by, actually, since there were oodles of other nerds in line).

We told ghost stories around a campfire. We got into a weird conversation where The Boy defended Canadians because he found out that William Shatner was Canadian.

His quote: “William Shatner was a good actor in Star Trek.” That’s my boy.

The Boy then told the third ghost story of the night, blatantly plagiarized the immediately preceding story and recast it with a slightly different ending in the way only a seven-year-old can do and get away with. The Boy was hilarious, and the Scouts and Parents applauded him.

We then went off to the observatory. The slide presentation was about Saturn, since that was where the big, 36” optical telescope was pointed. The Boy and I wandered about the amateur astronomers (I think there’s a video called, “Astronomers Gone Wild” where each amateur astronomer shows naked stars) and they took turns showing off their nebulae. It’s always an uncomfortable conversation when a father has to tell his son about the nebulae and the pulsars.

Oh, did I mention then we went back to our tent, and every time I started to initialize my raccoon deterrent system (snoring) The Boy emitted a high-pitched keening squawk.

Camping is fine. I’m thinking next year I’m going to bring some duct tape, though. Why? No particular reason . . .
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

"Whoa," - Neo, Teh Matrix


A dead Roman dude. I’ll call him Deadus Romani Guyus. Apparently all Romans were made of gold, and this is an itsy-bitsy gold fossil of an actual Roman, unless I read the placard wrong at the museum. That happens sometimes.

An Astute Reader (I’ll call him “Aaron”) noted in my little rant about economics that he’d like me to toss out some economic predictions. We’ll see if he ever asks me to write about anything again after this collection of random, lint covered Post-It© notes I’m pulling from the dark corners of my mind.

To better illustrate this, I’ll use the movie The Matrix as a backdrop to illustrate my points.

Here are my economic predictions (note, unless offered copious amounts of cash or some free beers, this economics column is a digression, not a new direction – I’ll continue on the adventures of the Family Wilder in the next column):

Prediction 1. Crowds of people will stay as stupid as a herd of drunk toddlers. This is not new. Sadly, this will not change.

Back during 1635 in Holland (I assume people from Holland are the Dutch, since whenever I say Hollandaise I get a nice, cheesy sauce instead of a strapping young blonde woman), a single tulip bulb sold for 6000 florin, which was enough of whatever a florin was to purchase sixty tons of butter (this is true). I don’t know about you, but if I had the choice between sixty tons of butter or a tulip bulb, I would choose the butter, but would have to look for 734 tons of nice hot biscuits and about 88 tons of honey. Alternately, I could melt the butter and just roll around in it until I was nice and greasy. That would still be better than telling my friends that I paid 6000 of anything for a flower.

The Dutch even sold futures contracts on tulip bulbs they intended to plant.

Why would anyone ever do something so stupid?

Internet bubble, anyone? I have a buddy who made a gazillion Internet dollars when he sold his Internet company for (sadly) stock in another Internet company. Don’t cry for him – he came out with at least seven figures in real money for two years’ worth of six hour work days.

Oh, and house prices always go up, right? Oh, and carbon dioxide, that stuff that plants eat to make more plants? It will kill us all. Maybe we should plant more tulips? Good curb appeal while pulling deadly carbon out of our atmosphere.

Let’s face it, whenever you get batches of people together, we’re stupid. This was true even in the year 348 BPH (Before Paris Hilton). How humanity manages to not drool all over itself all of the time amazes me.

Lesson from The Matrix: People are sometimes more valuable as batteries.

Prediction 2. The dollar will be worth less than it is now. Probably a lot less.

Currently, the Fed is pumping money into the economy as fast as they can print electrons. Given modern technology and quantum mechanics, they can do this pretty fast. The Fed is doing this because everyone bought tulips houses on really cheap money pumped into the economy to stop the problems from when everyone bought tulips Internet stocks.

This also is not new. Back when Sweden was warlike and had a king (six years before ABBA was formed), they messed up their money, too. Sweden based their currency on copper, since they had a good supply. Before long, everyone was carrying around copper coins that weighed in over thirty pounds to go buy a loaf of bread (this is also true). This also limited the popularity of becoming a stripper, since they had to have some seriously beefy thighs to hold up thirty-pound copper coins slipped into your (titanium, I presume) g-string. And their huge legs would be green from the copper verdigris.

The central banker that did this in Sweden? Beheaded by a burly (from carrying tons of copper to go and buy a six-pack) Swede, probably politely. We give central bankers nice pensions and book deals instead. More humane.

Side note: this is an extrapolation of a current trend – beware those, since if you did an extrapolation of Elvis impersonators from 1979-1988 you would conclude that in 2023 eight out of ten people would be Elvis impersonators.

Lesson from The Matrix: Money, like The Matrix, is imaginary, but sometimes it’s very heavy, especially if we leave the Swedes in charge.

Prediction 3. Commodities will be worth more.

Food, oil, beer, and steak: all of them are going to increase in price, maybe by a lot. Why? Because I said so.

Lesson from The Matrix: Trust Morpheus, or he’ll kick your butt.

Prediction 4. We will elect an idiot.

Okay, admittedly this is not much of a stretch. Notice I didn’t specify whether it would be a shallow idiot, a thieving idiot, or maniacal idiot.

Lesson from The Matrix: Take the blue pill. Or the red one. I forget. Take whichever one makes you forget reality.

Prediction 5. Some really, really wild things are going to happen.

No, this does not mean that Buffalo will win the Super Bowl®. Not while I’m in charge.

We live in a rather wild and interconnected world, so much so that people think, “Aha, ethanol made from corn will solve all of our energy woes!” and then wonder why Fritos™ and Doritos© cost more after we start making ethanol with corn. How on Earth did that happen? Hint: it’s a conspiracy.

I think we underestimate the connected risks of conventional wisdom and everyone acting like a member of a big flock. If we all went running to the West Coast at the same time to investigate the latest starlet’s wardrobe malfunction, well, the entire country might tip over. If you doubt me, see the sections above on tulips, the Internet, and housing. If you still doubt me, take your mouse in your right hand and beat yourself on the head with it until you don’t doubt me anymore.

No, I’m not saying that your best investments are whiskey (beer, up 50% in 8 years), ammunition (up 40%), and a concrete (up 100%) bunker, but I am saying that if you wrote down what you thought the world would look like 10 years from now you’ll say, “whoa, dude, never, ever saw that coming.”

Lesson from The Matrix: In the future you’ll probably sound just like Keanu Reeves and wear a really cool black trench coat with some really cool shades. Oh, and you’ll be able to fly. Using your mind. You’ll also be able to dodge bullets.

Disclaimer – This blog does not constitute even remotely good financial advice, and if you trade based upon the meanderings of a would-be Internet humorist, well, you’re on your own. The last trade I did lost me $1500.
Posted by Picasa

Sunday, April 13, 2008

" I'm half-horse, half-alligator and a little attached with snapping turtle." - Davy Crockett, Davy Crockett


I’d like to meet a man brave enough to molest an alligator. I could only imagine one tough enough: Chuck Norris.

I can just see it now. “Judge, Chuck Norris is charged with molesting an alligator.”

“Really? How long can I sentence Mr. Norris to prison for before he gets out? Two years? That’s not very long. Not guilty. Mr. Norris, you are free to go. And we’re all very, very sorry to have bothered you.”

We went Cub Scout camping again this weekend. The camping I was used to when I was a kid involved deep depravation of all things civilized: by the end of the trip you were looking at chipmunks and wondering how they would taste if you fried one – or, on a longer trip, raw. The longest trips? Whole.

Our campsite? Running water. Electricity. I could have brought a hot plate, an air conditioner, and X-Wii-Station®, or whatever those rascally kids are playing these days. Heck, I could have brought a 59” plasma television to watch infomercials on prostates given by men on yachts. I hate missing those.

No, we roughed it – sleeping in sleeping bags in the tent.

In Texas, I don’t know if we could have had better weather: 74°F (342°C) in the day and 53°F (-273.14°C) at night.

We got there, set up the tent in the manner of barbarians before the final push on Rome, and settled down to a meal of charred protein and fat (hot dogs roasted over a fire). The Boy then proceeded to skewer some marshmallows and char them until they looked like puffy lumps of coal. Rather than burning tem and contributing to global warming, The Boy ate them.

He’ll take one for the team, that one.

The Boy and I had a long talk on the way to the campground. I told him that I considered it an offense worthy of being kicked out of the tent to be eaten by rabid raccoons if he yelled, “Stop it!” while I began to emit the soft, comforting noise that philistines the world ‘round seem to call “snoring.”

He said he was good with that.

We went to bed at 10PM. At 2AM, I felt a sharp jab of pain. My brain dimly tallied the number of such jabs in the previous four hours – something like twelve. It felt like The Boy had kicked me. I looked at The Boy – he looked to be an angelic being captured in the bonds of Morpheus (that means he was sleeping, not that he is Keanu Reeves in The Matrix).

I decided to check, and pretended to sleep, emitting that soft, soothing noise that occurs when I slumber. I felt The Boy’s coiled body whip, his tiny feet colliding with my midsection at about sixty miles an hour.

Strangely, I think I moved even faster in wrapping my hands about his neck.

I told him, in very calm, even terms, that I would cover him with bacon and drop him into a vegetarian conference (vegetarians love, love bacon) if he did it again. He didn’t.

I slept well. The next morning, when quizzed, The Boy indicated that he had slept well, too.

We went and saw poison ivy, ducks, alligators, and various forms of trees. I’m not sure what level of hell it puts me into when I look at a tree that’s been alive since 1832 and wonder, “How in the heck would I cut that sucker down?” Nevertheless, I thought about that, and all of the sweet, sweet heat that an oak that’s 8’ in diameter at the base would provide, and how many chipmunks there might be up there.

Next: The Next Night: Poor Food Planning, Snoring, and Saturn.
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

"If you're paying for cable and not watching TV, you're losing money. It's just simple economics." - Stew, Strangers With Candy


A beach house down in Galveston. The Mrs. thought it might actually be a duplex, but I hope that it’s all owned by one massively rich middle-aged guy who drives his $750,000 sports car to the liquor store at noon on Thursday. Why? Economics .

All is well here at the Wilder household. I hear that for the rest of the country, not so much. Recently, reports of repressed revenue and recession are running rampant. Rut-ro.

Many of you never saw it coming. Me? I’ve predicted six of the last two recessions.

Most Americans can tell you more about Paris Hilton’s underwear and what causes them to fall off than about what a recession is and, what causes business to fall off. Part of this is because when one listens to an economist talk, they instantly fall asleep. Boringness is the natural defense mechanism of an economist – they talk, you sleep, they steal your wallet. When a recession finally shows up, they say, “See, I told you so.” You can’t dispute it because, frankly, you were sleeping.

Okay, we’ll start with money. Money is what we use to buy beer – everyone knows that. What most people miss is that money is really just pieces of paper. Where did they come from? Magic Federal Reserve fairies print it, or if they’re feeling particularly lazy, just make an entry into a spreadsheet. Magically, that act creates something you can buy beer with. Surprisingly, when you try print your own money, the authorities take a somewhat dim view of it, even though they were just in the back room smoking cigars made up of hundred dollar bills.

Now we have money, which is just made up. (this, astonishingly, is true – when they take it back, they shred it)

Banks then lend you this made-up money. Then, when you pay them back, they want even more of the stuff they just conjured up coming back to them in the form of “interest.” I’m not sure why they do this, since they can (and are) just printing loads of the stuff, but for some reason they want it back, and then some.

Who does the bank loan money to?

You. Especially if you lived in Southern California, where as a drug-addled, unemployed, professional skateboarder, you could have borrowed $16,000,000 to buy a 242 square foot house in an area with an average income of $352 a year. This is referred to as a “good credit risk.”

So, after the banks ran out of skateboarders to lend money to, all the banks began to compete to loan money to people with somewhat riskier credit, like Donald Trump. After exhausting his needs for cash to feed the weasel that lives on his scalp, the banks get desperate.

Helpful Economic Indicator: Whenever Donald Trump is famous, you can be sure that pretty much everyone dealing with money has gone entirely stupid.

At some point, the lucky homeowners who sold to skateboarders have a mound of cash, and they proceed to spend it all on I-Pods™, Pez®, and underwear from Target© to donate to Paris Hilton.

The Federal Reserve springs into action when a Pez® shortage looms, and prints more money. We ship the money to China, (sending them spreadsheets if we’re feeling particularly lazy) and pay for the Pez®.

Fun Economic Fact: People will give you real, physical things of value (like beer, guns, and gasoline) in exchange for a spreadsheet entry over at the bunker where they keep the computer at Visa©. Strangely, this is not illegal.

A recession is when the Federal Reserve runs out of ink, and we have no more money, thus no more of that sweet, sweet Pez®. Then Paris Hilton’s underwear falls off again.

Like you didn't see that coming.
Posted by Picasa

Sunday, April 06, 2008

"They wouldn't arrest me if we got boarded. I'm just the pilot. I could always say that I was flying the ship by accident." - Wash, Firefly


Pugsley attempts to make good on his scheme to make millions by stealing sand from the beaches at Galveston, only to later discover that he can fit only so much in his pail.

I remember being ten and hearing the line, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” I think I heard it on Monday Night Football®.

I felt that the author was fairly noncommittal. I mean, was it the best of times, as in all the hot chicks I could do, well, whatever it was that a ten year old would do with hot chicks? Was it the worst of times, as in your mother walking in while you tried to figure out what, exactly you were doing?

Really, you have to pick one. Best of times or worst of times. Karate yes, karate no. No karate maybe.

Last week I was driving home from work, late, uncaffeinated, tired. The road was wetter (than usual) and I looked to see if I could merge into the oncoming traffic. Looking forward, yeah, one guy sitting there, but there was a gap in traffic the size of Paris Hilton’s ego. He’d be gone. Look back, gap still there. Look forward, guy . . . . STILL THERE.

No problem. That’s why cars have brakes, right? Ooops. The rain made the concrete slippery enough that my treads could find no purchase.

Hit him. Smack. I watched my air bag (useless as a microwave popcorn bag at this point) deploy.

It’s interesting how time compresses in situations like that – it must be similar to spending time with Tom Cruise. Oh, sure it was only five minutes, but it seemed like an eternity. In this case I saw the air bag unfurl, and certainly felt the painfully hot exhaust gasses giving my forearms unneeded second-degree burns, all in the name of safety.

I got out of the car and made sure that the other guy was okay. He was. We pulled over and waited for a cop. By the time (two hours later) one arrived, he looked like Grant Imahara (the guy who’s not Adam or Jamie from Mythbusters©), and was as cool as one of the cops from the movie, “Superbad.” He looked at our cars and told me, “Alright, Mr., umm, McLovin, get on out of here.”

I drove home, and upon parking, noticed the steam emanating from the engine compartment After opening the hood, I watched as boiling hot ethylene glycol poured onto the concrete from the radiator. Great.

I got home, and told The Mrs. about my adventures in turning plastic and metal into twisted plastic and metal. I checked e-mail, primarily because I keep wondering if anyone will ever make me a millionaire through a questionable financial transaction from Nigeria or if someone will offer me inexpensive Viagra®.

I saw an e-mail for The Mrs. from a publisher. It was unopened. The Mrs. was studiously working on yet another novel not twenty feet from me. I clicked the “open” button on the e-mail.

The e-mail noted that, despite being a novel that they normally would never buy, they wanted to send The Mrs. a contract on her latest (finished, not the one she was typing on) novel. Because it was rockin’ good.

I said, “Honey come here and look at this.”

“Not now. I’m busy.”

“No, really, come here and take a look at this.”

The Mrs. grudgingly got up from her computer and wandered over to look at the e-mail on my screen.

First: disbelief.

Second: A little “happy” dance.

Third: “I need a beer.”

So, best of times and worst of times, indeed. More best than worst, though.
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

"You sunk a $700,000 yacht?" - Michael Bluth, Arrested Development

Posted by Picasa

Titanic. The Exhibition. I’m sure that this museum exhibit will be as reliably fun as a voyage on the Titanic.

I blame The Boy. The Mrs. and I put the question to him. Do you want to go to the Leonardo DaVinci Exhibit at the Natural History Museum, or go see the Titanic Exhibition at the Moody Gardens? (I was secretly rooting for the DaVinci stuff, since maybe I could crib some of his really cool designs and make a crank-powered flying computer that had the Mona Lisa on the side.)

He picked The Titanic.

We set off in typical Wilder-herd-of-turtles fashion at about 1PM. It takes about that long to caffeinate us all on a Saturday morning. An early Saturday morning trip? Oh, 11AM is pushing it for us.

We drove down to Galveston. I had taken a cursory look on Google Maps™ at the location of Moody Gardens, and guessed at the route. I thought (like the captain of the Titanic) that I could take a shortcut, with similar results. Twenty minutes later, we stopped at a grocery store to ask directions. If you’ve ever been to Galveston, you know you can drive almost all of the streets in about ten minutes, so I had probably been on several streets more than once. Oops.

We finally arrived at Moody Gardens. Moody Gardens consists of big, pyramid-shaped buildings, perhaps constructed that way to concentrate the forces of harmonic goodness so that Madonna© can sell albums. Heck, I don’t know. They’re pyramids, and we were there.

Posted by Picasa

Feel the nice pyramid goodness, complete with a creamy nougat center.

We found the appropriate pyramid with Titanic: The Exhibition®. I bought the tickets ($34?), and was greeted with a sign at the entry to the exhibit that indicated no photos, videos, camcorders, or memories were allowed without the express written consent of the NFL™ and the Oakland Raiders©, unless you were a member of the New England Patriots® coaching staff. I guess they get to video anywhere. I was disappointed, since I had wanted to treat the visitors of Wilder By Far to an actual video of the exhibit.

We got into the line of people and slowly shuffled near recreations of various staterooms, glass cases that had old stuff scraped from the bottom of the ocean. Me? I had seen all this junk in my great-grandparent’s garage, except they didn’t spend millions of dollars dredging it off of the ocean floor. They were just packrats that saved aluminum foil. So, since I can’t show you pictures to indicate how dismal and depressing I thought the exhibit was, I briefly considered taking a video of the junk in my garage and posting it to Youtube©, and indicating that these were treasures made of atoms created in a nuclear fusion furnace and expelled by an actual supernova.

The Boy is considerably less jaded than I. He’s bee reading about the Titanic, and was relatively amazed. He would have love great-grandpa’s garage, too. (I did when I was seven.) The only thing he did that irritated me was when he wanted to stop and watch a Discovery Channel® video that was playing and part of the exhibition. I dragged him away.

“We can watch TV at home.” Plus, we could leave faster.

The Mrs. enjoyed the exhibit as well, despite the fact that the nearly-three (and nearly forty pound) Pugsley had attached himself to her like a baby koala, and I could hear The Mrs. vertebra (vertebra are back bones, and not really bras at all) compacting under his sluggish weight.

We left. We stopped off at the beach in Galveston (free), kicked off our shoes and waded in the surf.

We had more fun at the beach, and could even take pictures.

Silktide SiteScore for this website
Blog Flux Directory Blogarama Free Web Counters
Web Counter
Search Popdex:
Humor Blog Top Sites Top100 Bloggers
Top100 uscity.net directory